I am asked fairly regularly, what is my favourite director? My answer is always the same; David Fincher. His films to me are the very best when it comes to directional craft, visual effects, acting, music and so on. Pretty much every film he has done I have liked (apart from Alien 3) and in 2014, he once again proved that he is still the king of the thriller genre. Based off the bestselling novel, Gone Girl may sound almost pacifist, but it is far from that, it isn’t even the closest thing to a happy go lucky film.
Like most David Fincher films, you might think that it is all about serial killers or people with interesting lives, this is none of those things. In fact, it’s unlike any story I’ve ever seen before. Set in Missouri, the story follows the rapidly failing marriage of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike). Nick has no interest in his wife’s life and Amy just wants to be cared about and as a result, one day, she just disappears. In order to exact her revenge on Nick for ruining his life, she leaves a trail of clues in an elaborately planned game designed to bring Nick to the level that she always wanted him; in prison and safe from poisoning the rest of society. The great thing about this film is that no matter where you are in the story, there is always an element of mystery to Amy’s intentions. And because the clues are so cryptic, you really have to think on what they mean and how they tie into the story.
The story definitely suits Fincher’s directional style as it’s all about major character development and encourages the audience to actually think about the films plot and not just stare in awe at the somewhat frightening events that are depicted. Fincher knows that people will have to think but has directed the film in such a way that you don’t have to think too hard about what is going on. And this shows with how the actors easily fit the roles; Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck both give perhaps the best performances I have ever come across and yes, Neil Patrick Harris can do serious acting. The upshot is, is you have a film where everyone involved is absolutely clear about what it is supposed to be.
Like most David Fincher films, the CGI is very subtle that it can almost be mistaken for a real thing. He doesn’t use computers to create creatures or magical places, he only uses them to create an added aura to the already existing backdrop. Mists, light rain, even the heavy air around lit street lamps was all added in and the effect is an air of mystery throughout the entirety of the film. And it has worked because it’s perfectly simple in design, I’d say it’s better looking than some digital worlds you find in complete animation.
In terms of sound effects, this film has almost none. It follows the lead of ‘the power of silence’ and for most of the time it’s good in tension building scenes and interrogations, but for the rest of the film, it can make it seem a bit dull. Sure, you get the sounds of trees in the wind or seagulls by the sea, but for the urban environment, it can feel a little boring. But that is the point; this world is very still, very little happens in everyday life and from that, we can see that everything feels distant from the storm that comes barrelling in.
The score has a lot to compensate for the lack of sound. Collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are back to create music that fits the style of the film; very calm and very soothing. There is no hyped up action oriented orchestras in this, just very simple pianos and violins creating this almost Kubrick atmosphere to the films pace. It’s not exciting yes, but I like it like that.
But then, there is another slight drawback and that is the dullness of the sets. Like the sound, there isn’t very much detail and it’s not as if it looks like any normal setting to the audience. Granted, the outside is more impressive thanks to subtle editing and CGI, but that’s it, the inside of houses are all grey and straight. Like the sound however, this strange sense of dullness and still atmosphere creates a kind of tension, even without actually having any dialogue in it at all. Gone Girl takes the audience to a silent world, of normality and tranquillity, the perfect location for something really unexpected to happen. This all may seem very contradictory, but when it comes to providing a realistic world with very dark overtones, then Gone Girl is in a class of its own.
One of best things about this film, as is with every Fincher film, is that the cinematography is brilliant. You don’t get any slow motion fast paced action sequences, but you do get some very inventive angles to work with. Jeff Cronenworth, the cinematographer for Fight Club and the Social Network, employs the use of darkness to really expose the truth about the characters. And you can’t really tell that any stage lights were used to make night scenes visible, it all looks perfectly natural. You don’t get any hand held moments in the film and that’s good, it means you can see everything you need to know about.
Unlike the sets and the sound design of the film, the looks of characters do denote to their feelings and emotions. Nick is scruffy and abstract in his appearance which may suggest a slob lifestyle and little outside interaction, while Amy is very organised and tidy, but also more colourful in her dress sense.
This film can be difficult to get your head round and it looks quite drab in its overall appearance, but when comes to offering great performances, story writing, music and cinematography, this film is a serious player. After reviewing everything about this film, I can say that this is the sort of film that is an easy recommendation to people.
I give this film a 9/10.